Tidbits of Us

I am the wife of an amazing man, seeking hard after God's will for his family, and the mother of 3 beautiful little girls and a 4th baby lost in pregnancy, who all pull at my heartstrings continually. Life has been a whirlwind since our wedding in 2008, including seminary, adventures in camp ministry, missions in Kosovo, and countless moves and God's fingerprints are throughout it all. We are blessed and encouraged that He is equipping us continually for the ministry ahead and pray we are great stewards to all he has entrusted to us, in family, friends, ministry, finances, and of course, the gospel.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

To lose a life through miscarriage: Our not so simple story.

"Just a regular ol' miscarriage".

I don't know how many times she said it. I don't think it was too many, but just once was more then enough. I can still picture her, casually leaning against the counter next to my bed in the small ER room. My husband in the chair by my feet. We were right across from the nurses table. On a corner where traffic was high and most people felt the need to look in as they passed by.

She used her hands as she talked and gave a half sort of shrug as she said it. Her tone was meant to lighten the blow.

She knew why we were there. As she heard we had three children and were pregnant with our fourth she shared the joy of having four close in age just like ours. Her baby was merely a few months younger then ours. She joked of how we must be insane to plan it this way.

It was a Friday. The last few days paranoia had set in. I had made my first appointment for the 10 week mark. I was an old pro at this pregnancy thing by now and wasn't going to rush in as soon as they would let me. We had planned on this being our last, and part of me couldn't throw away the pregnancy test. I had never once kept it before, but something in me just held on. I would often go to the bathroom just to look at it as it rested on the counter in it's little spot. But I was growing nervous. So, I put my three girls into a much needed bath in our big tub and as they splashed and played I went to the calendar to make a phone call. I easily adjusted the appointment to the very day I would be 8 weeks.

I remember her voice. I leaned against the corner in our kitchen counter to rest my ever so mildly aching back and verified the date and time I had written in blue dry erase marker. I'd told Aaron the night before that my back felt as though I'd worked out recently, but I just couldn't figure out what I had done to make it sore. She confirmed and began to remind me of the things to bring. But I wasn't hearing her anymore. The sound was there, but it wasn't anything I could hear. Instead my body simply felt. In a moment of horrific timing, as we prepared to hang up I almost told her. I almost said it.

I'm bleeding.

I'm bleeding....

Any woman would recognize the feeling and know it instantly. And any woman would know, if it's enough to feel it happening, it's not just spotting.

My body felt the sudden wave of fear. The sudden rush of panic.

I don't even remember getting off the phone. But I was aware enough to be sure to take it with me as I rushed to the toilet. I dropped my pants and tears emerged with immediately and incredible force. I sat there staring in disbelief, and yet knowingly, and sobbed. Unable to divert my gaze. The crimson red. When I close my eyes I can still see it. Bright. Obvious. Too much of it.

I called Aaron and had to say words over and over that I'd never thought would leave my lips. I kept hearing these words pour out of my mouth as he couldn't understand through my tears. I don't know how many times I had to say it, but somewhere in there he heard. Repeat with my mother in law. Disbelief at what my words were saying. I got off the phone and looked up, suddenly realizing my three children were in the bath, staring at me. My oldest, an innocent 4 years of life, her eyes bore an expression I've never seen on her sweet face before. The child was in fear and confused. The other two watched while playing. My 2.5 year old uneasy.

 I struggled for composure. Not now. Don't loose it now.  They need me. They need mommy. If mommy's world is falling apart then theirs is spinning out of control.  I struggled to dry my eyes. Calm my voice. Smile. "It's ok baby. Everything is ok". She relaxes. She trusts me. She begins to play again. They trust me. If mommy says everything is ok, then it is.

I fear eventually this moment will be one of my 4.5 year old's first memories.

So I wash my children and get them dressed. I call the OB and wait. But I can't, so we prepare to go to the ER. In a moment of tears my sweet 2 year old asks if I'm sad. When I say yes she sings a favorite Daniel tiger song. "It's ok to feel sad some times. Little by little, you'll feel better again." I ache to believe those words.

I lay in a cold ER. My back pain had suddenly become just bearable at the same time the bleeding had started. But I can bare it. Resisting the urge to cry from the pain shooting through my body as I hold various positions for exams and internal ultra sounds. A handful of hours and a diagnosis later. A "regular ol' miscarriage". They had tried to comment on the positives, but I knew.

I knew when the ultra sound tech, barely out of school, wouldn't let me see the screen. I knew when she refused to tell me a thing. I knew when I told her even if they baby had passed I would like a picture and she responded by letting me know I was too early for this to be a baby either way. I knew referring to my baby as a fetus or still just tissues was easier for her. I felt angered by it, but I felt sorry for her as well. What if she saw this all day long. What if this was a way of removing the emotions for her. Her way to cope. I knew when she walked out of the computer room, not knowing we were still in the hall waiting to be taken back down, and averted her gaze the instant she saw us, quickly wiping her eyes.  She said everything when she said nothing.

A weekend passed and I numbly walked into the OB's office. But this time was different. This time there was hope given. This time the ultra sound showed more then we had expected. The thought of two babies. There were two sacks, but both were full of clots. We never actually saw a baby in the one sack, so they assumed this baby had passed. No longer viable as they said. But the second sack. This one held hope. This one held a living child. As we watched the smallest heartbeat I have ever seen, I was filled with hope and joy. But this baby wasn't safe. This baby was surrounded by clots much larger then itself. My baby was about the size of a grain of rice, and the clot was almost the size of a dime. And rested threateningly right next to my baby.

For the next ten days I waited and prayed. Every day I prayed this life would be granted to our family. This life would one day be in my arms, a strong, healthy baby. For ten days we prayed for a miracle with the second life. We prayed Both babies would be in our arms. For ten days I reminded myself not to forget the threat. I tried to be careful not to feel certain in my hope. The slightest hint of lower back pain and I felt the fear closing in. Ready to invade any speck of hope to be found. I'd begun having morning sickness and all the glories that come with first trimesters. I even began to notice a firm area in my lower stomach starting. I knew this all too well. This was the beginnings of hope. I began to feel certain of it. And I forgot. I forgot the risk, no matter how many times I said it was there. I completely forgot about it. 

Ten days went by. My anxiety getting the best of me. Two more weeks was too long to wait. They can squeeze me in. I can make this work. I walked into the ultra sound room ready. Ready to see my baby. Ready to accept the possible second baby was gone for sure, but praying with every step closer to the bed that both were living. 

I knew things didn't look right before she said anything. She informed me the "second baby" was not an actual baby. Similar to that of a Mohlor pregnancy in a way. My body thought the clots were another baby and treated them as such, but things had grown enough now that they could tell the difference. 

She was gently taking the long way around. She was stalling. I acknowledged all she said and waited for what I knew was coming. If it was good news she would have lead with it. I would have seen movement, I would have felt her relief. She took measurements. She tilted her head and adjusted in her seat. I asked if she was measuring the baby. She was. My baby had been alive. My baby had grown in the past ten days. But it was no longer growing. There was no movement. There was no joy. No relief. No hope. My heart was breaking. I blamed my shaking on the coldness of the room. I forced a smile as we said two sentences about how offices are so cold. She offered a picture with unsure body language. I accepted and glanced at the broken pieces of my heart that were encompassed within this four by four square of black and white ink laying lifeless in my hands. 

We chose to wait two more weeks. I felt lifeless. But I had to take care of my children. I had to smile. They needed me to be ok. They needed mommy to have some life left in her for them. My goal: to get out of bed. Every day. To step out of bed. And every day I did.

We told our daughters that the baby in my belly went to be with Jesus because he or she wasn't able to grow right. For days they'd ask if there was another baby in my belly yet. Every time they asked I fought the urge to crumble.

Every day I feared it beginning. I feared my body doing what it was suppose to at this point. I was constantly prepared for it to begin. I dwelt on my baby being flushed down the toilet or the drain of the shower in a mixture of blood and water. I feared it happening at home and having to use my own bathroom or shower again after that. I feared images that would never leave my mind. I feared the pain. I ached at the thought of having to flush the toilet. I don't think I could have. I couldn't even throw away the underwear from that first day. I was too horrified to look at them. I asked my husband to throw them away along with the pregnancy test, being sure that I didn't know when he was doing it. 

I feared my body, once again, not doing what it was suppose to. I feared the cold and sterile operating room. I feared them ripping my baby from my body to dispose of him or her in a hazardous waste bag. I feared choosing to be asleep for the whole thing would be letting my baby down. If it happened at home I would at least be giving my baby absolutely everything I could. As if choosing the operating room was a way of failing my child. 

Every day I fought morning sickness. Struggled to try to eat when everything sounded or smelled repulsive. Yearned for the constant nausea and lack of energy to give way. Pregnancy symptoms that you usually tell yourself are worth it in the end. You struggle but you get through, and you barely remember them even if trying as your holding your baby in your arms.

But what do you tell yourself when there's not going to be a baby. When you've prepared your heart for this person that will never be with you.

The anger came in waves. Hard and strong waves. Mostly directed at myself, or just at the loss. Some days I felt it would eat me alive. Every time I ached to fall apart, to have my outside match my insides, a child needed a drink. A cuddle. A story read. A mommy who had it together. A mommy they could fall into and know everything was safe. Everything was ok. Stand strong, momma. You can't fall apart today.

I haven't really asked why. I know the answers to that. I know God has a plan and it's glorious and greater then I can imagine or fathom or even handle at this point. I know it deep in my heart, not just in my mind. So I have no need to ask why. Nor am I angry with God. I'm not angry that this is something he will use in our life. I'm not angry at Him for something that isn't his doing but is an effect of the fall and man's sin. He will use it to bring us closer to him if we will allow Him to see us through this. If nothing else it reminds me of how much in need of a Savior we are because of our sin. Because God's glorious plan didn't include this when he created the earth. Man marred the whole thing up. God in his infinite wisdom planned a savior from the very beginning. God holds my baby. Right now my baby is with the savior of the world!! And because of my savior cleansing me from my sins as only Jesus Christ could do, I will see my baby one day. Just maybe God will be there, holding my baby as I walk up. Ready to introduce us. God's plan was never that we would loose our children. He desires for us to see each other again, just as He desires for us to live eternally in Heaven with Him, if we would only see and accept the sacrifice Christ made on the cross. God yearns for restoration with passion. God yearns to restore my heart through this pain as well. And it will take time. And it won't be easy. 

Two weeks passed. Another ultra sound. I walked in determined not to cry. This time my body had finally done what was best. My body absorbed most of the clots, as well as my baby. I wouldn't have to flush the toilet. I wouldn't have to hold back from vomiting every time I saw a blood red hazardous waste bag or symbol. Relief floods me when I think of this. Relief marred with anger. NOW my body decides to do what it was suppose to? It couldn't have done this 4 weeks ago when my baby needed me most? Anger, and relief. 

They called to inform me of the date and time of the D&C. I struggled to keep myself from collapsing as she said these words. Four weeks had slowly passed. But it was here. I don't know if my emotions were relieved that this was going to bring it all to a close, or if the depth of the reality was finally hitting me. This was really happening. This was final. I am one in four. I have a baby born in heaven. I have had a miscarriage. 

Halloween day I laid cold on the bed. The mask went over my face. I can picture that exact moment clearly, as I can all of these moments. They way they show it in the TV shows, from the patients perspective, that's pretty much how it looks. I watched a show just last night where they showed this. And I had to close my eyes to stop from crying. It took me right back. I was on that bed again. 

Tomorrow is 5 weeks from our D&C. I don't know how it's been this long already. The physical healing is complete, although it took more time then I expected. The emotional... the depths are yet to be seen. Most of which will probably be seen here. Because, as a wise friend has said, writing is cheaper then therapy. 

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